"My experience has been nothing like CNET's."2.5 starson by Brent212
Pros: Performance through the wired ports seems solid, doesn't lose connection on a regular basis. Nice web config interface.
Cons: Wireless range is terrible. Hard to stay connected when further than 30-40 feet away. Newest firmware clearly exhibited lower performance than previous firmware. Needs to be reset every once in awhile (I'd guess every 2-3 weeks).
Summary: I don't know if CNET was smoking some really good sht, or if it's just that these routers have a high lemon rate and they happened to get a good one. If you look at the customer reviews on amazon and here, there's a rather high percentage of unhappy people for a product with such a high CNET rating.
I've had it for over a year and up until recently was fairly pleased with it. Other than it seeming to freeze up and need a power cycle ever so often (between 2 weeks and once a month), I didn't have any problems, and was seeing fairly solid performance, although I don't really have much to compare it to as this is the first n router I've used, and I didn't do a whole lot of speed testing on the 2 or 3 previous routers I've had.
However, I was mainly using it for computers that are directly connected to the 4 ethernet ports, and the occasional wireless usage with a laptop in the same room (it's in my living room). My wife recently got an ipad, however, and she can't get a solid connection in our bedroom, one floor up, and maybe 20 feet over from where the router sits. The total distance can't be further than 40 feet (I'd say it's probably more like 25). It's going through one floor, but that shouldn't be an issue since plenty of people have good experiences with plenty of wireless routers while outside or in another building even.
At first I thought the problem must be that the ipad has a weak or faulty wireless receiver. But then I started trying my android phone, and hers as well. All three devices have pretty much identical performance. I did a lot of experimenting with the settings for wireless channel (1-11, Auto), wireless mode (b+g+n vs. just n), and bandwidth (20 MHz vs 20/40 MHz). After doing some research, these three settings seemed like they'd be the main, if not only, settings that would effect the range/performance I was seeing in the tablet/phones.
While theoretically, setting the bandwidth to 20/40 should improve performance, I came to the conclusion that using the 20 MHz setting clearly produced a more reliable connection with faster transfer speeds. I wasn't able to ever get the signal to be solid on the far side of our room, but it's decent when on the side closest to the router (pretty much right above it). When set to 20/40, I couldn't get a good connection at all.
I should note that while I was tweaking and testing these settings, there were no other devices using the network, and I'd connect and test one wireless device at a time.
I tried all the channels, along with Auto (which lets the router choose based on what it's detected as being the clearest), and some were definitely better than others. Auto would usually result in 1 or 11, but I did see 5 and 6 selected a few times. I ended up deciding that 8 was the best, but I'm sure this is different for everyone, since I believe it's affected by nearby wireless networks. And who knows, 8 might not be the best for me tomorrow, so leaving it on Auto might be the way to go, although I'm curious to know what causes it to re-assess the channel.
I also tried the three latest firmwares (I was two behind), and found that the newest one (2.01.09) yielded noticeably slower speeds than the previous one (2.01.08) with the same settings. I tried switching between .08 and .09 three times back to back, leaving the settings the same and running a speed test a few times on each firmware, and everytime the performance would drop by about 66% when the .09 firmware was in use. So I'm sticking with 2.01.08.
Every product that, when working as intended, delivers great performance, can have a small percentage of duds that produce disappointed customers. But the bottom line is that with this router it seems there is a far greater than average amount of lemons. CNET apparently got one of the good units, and while I'm sure the chances of getting a good one are still decent (at least 50%, probably much higher), many people have been stuck with one that doesn't perform near what CNET saw, and if I were going to buy another router right now, I'd take my chances with another company, or at least another model.